Archives for August 2010
You must never end a sentence with a preposition! How often did you hear this in school? I have good news: you can end a sentence any way you choose to. Ending sentences with prepositions is something I looked into. Thoroughly.
Let’s define a preposition. It’s a connective word that shows the relationship (in terms of time, space, cause, ownership, association, accompaniment, or manner) between a noun (or pronoun) and some other word in the sentence. Think “relationship,” think “position,” when you think “preposition.”
Some of the most commonly used prepositions: about, above, across, after, against, along, amid, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, concerning, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, instead, of, off, on, onto, out, over, past, pending, regarding, respecting, round, since, through, to, toward, under, until, unto, up, upon, with, within, without.
There are rules floating around–causing conflict and consternation–that were never really, truly, official grammar rules. They were often the personal preferences of people who liked to speak out on the subject. People in power. Like your fifth grade teacher or your great-aunt Matilda.
These good people are often the same ones who say (or said) we can never begin a sentence with “and,” “but,” “or,” “also,” or “however.” But they’re mistaken. In both cases, it’s okay if it makes for an easy-to-understand sentence. However, make sure to use such words in very informal communications.
Sometimes using a preposition at the end of a sentence (terminal preposition) is awkward, and sometimes it’s better to use one at the end. For example:
- Awkward: It is not easy to know that about which you are thinking.
- Natural: It’s not easy to know what you’re thinking about.
If good communication is your goal, just make sure that the sentence is clear for the reader or listener.
Have you ever wanted to become an expert on alliteration? If nothing else, it’s such a beautiful word! Seriously, when one uses alliteration properly–especially in publications–it is subtly effective.
If you work on Web sites, e-zines, or print newsletters, this may be a good time for you to brush up on the amazing world of alliteration.
Main Entry: al·lit·er·a·tion (pronounced uh-lit-tuh-RA-shun)
Function: noun – Date: circa 1656
Etymology: ad- + Latin littera letter
: the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables (as wild and woolly, threatening throngs) — called also head rhyme, initial rhyme
Generally one can use alliteration in business: in headings, headlines, and (very carefully) in letters, proposals, reports, etc.
Here’s some alliteration used by my local newspaper, The Arizona Republic, in one day’s main section:
- Gaming talks a big gamble (better than …Gaming talks a big risk.)
- Fisher hunt feeds tales for campfire (better than …hunt generates tales…)
- Pope asks president to spare McVeigh (better than …Pope asks Bush to…)
- Death spurs Ecstasy debate (better than …spurs Ecstasy wrangle…)
- Tiny tribe in Conn… (better than …Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in Conn…)
- Mexican Congress changes (better than …Mexican Congress shifts…)
- …threatens power and popularity (better than …threatens strength and popularity… or …threatens power and reputation.)
In alliteration, the rhyming words don’t need to be next to each other; they just need to be in the same grouping of words. And the words used don’t need to begin with the same letter: they need to have a similar initial sound. Examples: night / knight … no / know … cede / seed … cell / sell.
From Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate(R) Dictionary at www.m-w.com by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.